Deviants, ch. 1
Posted September 25th, 2020 by katchyboo
in Subcon Forest
Artemis couldn’t help but stay awake.
She was impossibly excited, and just a little scared - far too much so to just close her eyes and sleep. Damn it. Of course this happened on the one day that she actually needed to sleep.
She needed to sleep, because her Assignment was tomorrow.
It was funny, honestly. All this time spent in Lotus Academy, memorising the details of a million tiny little things, building up to nothing. Jobs weren’t hard. You just worked. It wasn’t as if you needed to know the formula to an ignis spell (apart from lights, of course - Ignis was, at least, useful for that).
Tomorrow, she kept telling herself. Tomorrow, you’ll be free.
Artemis couldn’t help but stay awake, because she couldn’t help the memories flooding in.
“Shush, Artemis. Just another couple months.” Spencer’s big, beautiful purple eyes shone with excitement.
“But I want to come with you!” Artemis pleaded. She didn’t want to lose her best friend, even temporarily.
Spencer shook her head. “You know you can’t. You’re not of age yet.”
Artemis knew that. She didn’t care. She still wanted to come with Spencer.
Artemis drew the blankets closer to her face, trying to stop the tears from falling. Since that day - Spencer’s Assignment - the two hadn’t seen each other again.
You’ll see her again. You’ll be Assigned your partner, your house, and you’ll see her again, Artemis thought, trying to comfort herself, to drown out the traitorous voice telling her that maybe you won’t. Elysium is a big city.
She needed some air.
Artemis slipped on her boots, her favorite hoodie, and climbed out her window. She started to scale the walls of her home - Lotus Academy.
It was the only school in the city of Elysium, and also a pretty damn boring place to live.
When Artemis was younger and still enamored with the world, she was entertained enough by the scores of children that marched through the ivory halls every day, the dragon statues scattered around. She couldn’t believe it, back then, when she finally joined them.
Soon, though, the school’s shining beauty became dull, routine. All Artemis had wanted - for nearly four years now - was to get away.
Away from Lotus Academy and its beautiful emptiness.
Alright, then. She was out. Now, she needed a walk.
“Hmm. Where to…” Artemis thought out loud. It was a habit of hers - there was barely anyone around normally, and she didn’t really like silence. “...Hah, what if I went to Icarus Hall…?”
Icarus Hall. Where she’d be Assigned a partner and a house tomorrow.
It was kind of scary. What happened tomorrow would decide the rest of her life.
She giggled nervously, then it turned into a real, loud laugh; as soon as she had had the idea, she knew she was going to act on it. She was not one to meddle with her own stupid ideas; after all, they usually didn’t end up with anyone getting hurt. Usually.
She ran through the darkened, empty streets, as the road sparkled in the moonlight, her boots thumping against the tarmac, her hair blowing into her face. She loved running for this exact reason - it made her feel so alive, it felt like magic, almost; but the storybook kind, not the mundane, everyday sort.
She didn’t know it yet, but she’d be doing a lot more running, soon.
Artemis skidded to a halt in front of her destination, Icarus Hall - the building where the Assignment took place, where countless government officials worked.
But now, in the dead of night, it was silent. Empty.
Or at least, it should have been.
She tried the lock. Surprisingly, it opened immediately - she had been expecting to have to pick the lock - and she slipped into the entrance, only to find that the lamps were lit, magic fire flickering in the darkness.
That’s weird. Almost like someone’s… here… she thought, glancing around nervously.
“We need more, you incompetent fool - have you seen the amount of names on this list?”
Artemis jumped at the sudden noise - someone was here. Right around the corner. Terrified, she hid behind some curtains - with the darkness outside, no one would notice her silhouette.
The voice spoke again, closer this time. “We need a spell for every one of these children, and we need them ready by tomorrow, you hear me? The Assignment can’t wait.”
A spell? Artemis thought, shaking slightly from the adrenaline suddenly rushing through her. A magic spell? What kind, why would they need one?
Another voice, stammering. Whoever they were, they must have been scared of the first speaker. “I- I know, Dr. Meredith. We’ll have them ready in time.”
The first voice huffed. “You’d better.”
The two walked away, from the sound of their footsteps, but Artemis waited until she could be sure that they were gone before she let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. She was still trembling, her steps unsteady, but she made it out of the building and onto the road.
What the hell did I just hear? Still reeling from the experience, she made her way back to her room in Lotus Academy.
“What does it mean…?” she whispered to herself, getting back into bed, resigning herself to a restless night.
The next day, she got up, dressed, and ate breakfast in silence, her mind a whirlwind of thoughts that hadn’t stopped since she got home.
She tried to convince herself that it was nothing, that she’d been hearing things, but no amount of lies could erase the words she’d heard.
We need a spell for every one of these children...
Artemis still didn’t know what it meant. She’d tried, all night, to make it make sense - to form some coherent image of what those two people (Dr. Meredith, she remembered. One of them was called Dr. Meredith) could have been talking about.
All around her, 17-year-olds - or thereabouts, anyway - chattered excitedly, anticipating their Assignment. And to think. She might have been one of them, talking about how much she couldn’t wait to throw her life away, if not for her stupid ideas.
If not for that rebellious streak that she always tried to ignore.
It didn’t really fit into Elysium. She didn’t really fit into Elysium.
Nope, nope, nope. Not what you need to think about right now. She shook her head, desperately trying to think of anything else, but it was useless.
Then, of course, as she always did, Spencer invaded her thoughts again.
Her best friend.
Her best friend, who’d gone to her Assignment and was never heard from again.
Artemis had asked the principal of Lotus Academy about it. He just looked at her strangely and told her that there’d never been a student named Spencer Gold.
But there had been. Artemis had known her. They’d been best friends. People didn’t just disappear like that.
Of course, they did. Artemis knew that. She’d heard a couple stories from the other students - people disappearing, adults seemingly forgetting those same people ever existed. But it hadn’t seemed real until then.
Artemis was snapped out of her trance when someone tapped her shoulder. She jumped.
“Whoa there,” said Seraphina - one of her classmates - smiling nervously. “Just checking up on you. You’ve been staring at that wall for twenty minutes now.”
“It’s an interesting wall. You see that crack there?” Artemis joked, pointing at a random crack in the wall. “It’s a map to Styx Square.”
“Pfft, no it’s not. That one is.” Seraphina smiled and pointed at another crack, then her tone grew serious, with a note of concern. “Really though, Artemis. You sure you’re okay? You’ve been spacing out, like, all day.”
“Hah, just… nervous,” Artemis replied, smiling weakly. Technically, that part wasn’t a lie. “You know, the Assignment’s pretty important… I’m just worried I might not get a good match.”
“You’ll be fine. You know they only match people who’re good for each other.”
Artemis couldn’t help but think, But what if they don’t?
“Anyway, come on. Cheer up a bit! This is exciting!” Seraphina grinned, then skipped back towards her group of friends.
Artemis took a deep breath.
The time had come. Finally. What was the saying, again? Be careful what you wish for. Because you might just get it.
Well, Artemis had been wishing for the Assignment to arrive all her life. And on the only day that she didn’t want it to come…
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